Oscar's Best Cinematography 2020


The Oscar for Best Cinematography belongs to...?
3 votes
Jarin Blaschke, THE LIGHTHOUSE
12 votes
Roger Deakins, 1917
1 votes
Rodrigo Prieto, THE IRISHMAN
0 votes
0 votes
Lawrence Sher, JOKER
16 votes. You may not vote on this poll

The films nominated for Best Cinematography at this year's Academy Awards are...

Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse

Roger Deakins, 1917

Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman

Robert Richardson, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Lawrence Sher, Joker
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

Haven’t seen 1917 yet, but love the work of Roger Deakins.
I’m here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. That’s why I’m here now.

I was watching the making of 1917 yesterday on YouTube. Probably from Business Insider or some channel. I dont think anyone can match that. Winner for me.
My Favorite Films

From what I've seen from 1917, the visuals are spectacular. Deakins has his name on that Oscar.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!” ~ Rocky Balboa

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
1917 gets this, although I loved the cinematography of The Lighthouse.
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews

A system of cells interlinked
Will see The Lighthouse sometime this week. Sadly, won't be able to get to 1917 before the awards, but I adore Deakins' work, so I am kind of rooting for him to get another statue.
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

Lawrence Sher worked with Todd Phillips five other times before Joker: all three Hangover movies, Due Date, and War Dogs. Some of his other credits include Garden State, Dan in Real Life, I Love You, Man, and this year's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Like Joker itself this nomination will likely be an anomaly in his career and he'll go back to lensing comedies or more straightforward genre flicks, but he'll always be able to say he was an Oscar nominee. He will not win.

Jarin Blaschke was also the director of photography on Robert Eggers' debut The VVitch and gets his first Oscar nom for The Lighthouse. It was the only nomination the film received, though it garnered five nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Since the separate awards for color and black & white photography were merged into one category in 1967 Schindler's List and last year's Roma are the only two Best Cinematography winners shot in black in white. But a bigger stumbling block for The Lighthouse is that no film has ever won here being the sole nomination.

This is Rodrigo Prieto's third Oscar nom following Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (Dion Beebe won for Memoirs of a Geisha) and Scorsese's Silence (Linus Sandgren won for La La Land). His other credits include Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, Affleck's Argo, Spike Lee's 25th Hour, Almodóvar's Broken Embraces, Julie Taymor's Frida, and Iñárritu's Babel, Biutiful, and 21 Grams. The controversial de-aging technique got much of the attention, and Scorsese toned back his trademark flashy editing and style to tell this slower tale. Prieto won't win this time out but the quality of filmmakers he works with means he will be back.

This is Robert Richardson's tenth Oscar nomination and he already has three wins, for Oliver Stone's JFK and Scorsese's The Aviator and Hugo. This is his fourth nom for a Tarantino movie following Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. He is a living legend but I don't think he'll win his fourth here. If he does he will join Leon Shamroy and Joseph Ruttenberg as the most Oscars ever won for cinematography. He may well get there, though Emmanuel Lubezki recently won three in a row and has taken a few years off and I would bet he'll get there first. But Richardson's legend continues to grow, whether he wins this time or not. Some of Richardson's other credits include Salvador, Platoon, Talk Radio, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, Heaven & Earth, The Doors, Natural Born Killers, Nixon, and U-Turn with Oliver Stone, Casino, Bringing Out the Dead, Shine a Light, and Shutter Island with Scorsese, Eight Men Out and City of Hope with John Sayles, Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men, Barry Levinson's Wag the Dog, Ben Affleck's Live by Night, and Tarantino's KIll Bill.

Speaking of living legends, Roger Deakins finally won his mysteriously overdue Oscar two years ago for Blade Runner 2049. It was his fourteenth nomination. 1917 is Deakins' fifteenth nomination, tying Robert Surtees (The Graduate, The Last Picture Show, Ben-Hur, The Bad and the Beautiful). Three more and he will tie Charles Lang (One-Eyed Jacks, Wait Until Dark, Ace in the Hole) and Leon Shamroy (Leave Her to Heaven, Cleopatra, Planet of the Apes) as the most nominated Directors of Photography ever. 1917 is designed to appear as one continuous take. It effectively straps the viewer in for a ride through the chaos of war. And it is about to make Roger Deakins two for his last two, which sounds better than 2-for-15.

Roger Deakins won the American Society of Cinematographers award last night for 1917. It is his FIFTH ASC win, tying him with Emmanuel Lubezki for the most wins all time. Deakins' previous four wins were for The Shawshank Redemption, The Man Who Wasn't There, Skyfall, and Blade Runner 2049. Lubezki's wins are for Children of Men, The Tree of Life, Gravity, Birdman, and The Revenant.

The ASC has been giving this award since 1986. In those thirty-three years the ASC winner has matched the Oscar for Best Cinematography only fourteen times. Which is how Deakins can be a five-time winnner here but so far only one Oscar win. 58% as a predictor for the Academy Awards is nothing to bet your mortgage on. Just in this decade they have matched five out of the nine, the differences being 2011 when Emmanuel Lubezki won the ASC for The Tree of Life but Robert Richardson got the Oscar for Hugo, 2012 when Deakins won the ASC for Skyfall and Claudio Miranda the Oscar for Life of Pi, 2016 when Greig Fraser won the ASC for Lion but Linus Sandgren the Oscar for La La Land, and last year when Lukasz Żal got the ASC for Cold War while Alfonso Cuarón won the Oscar for shooting his own Roma.

I think Deakins will prevail this year and get his second Oscar.

If I were to rank the films....

1. The Lighthouse
2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
3. Joker
4. 1917
5. The Irishman

Had I not seen "They Shall Not Grow Old" I might have had 1917 as my #1

But I know WWI trenches were a lot dirtier and more crowded than the film demonstrated. It was a well shot film but it felt like a Tarkovsky film. I think Once Upon a Time and Joker did a better job recreating Los Angeles in the 60's and New York in the 80's and artistic shots were 1-1 for me.

For me my vote went to The Lighthouse, it had a Bergman quality to it, and if Cinematography is about creating memorable images Lighthouse tops the others.

For my taste I would probably jettison both The Irishman and Joker from this category. And I'd replace them with any two of these...

Jörg Widmer for The Hidden Life (Terrence Malick)
Widmer is a German-born camera operator who has worked his way up to cinematographer. After assisting Emmanuel Lubezki on Malick's previous five films (The New World through Song to Song) he ascended to the top job for The Hidden Life. Shot mostly in the mountains of Austria it probably has less movement and invention than Lubezki's work, but it is stunning, breathtaking on the big screen. The Hidden Life was completely ignored by the Academy, but it is Malick's best work since The Tree of Life.

Hung-i Yao, Jingsong Dong, and David Chizallet for Long Day’s Journey Into Night - 地球最后的夜晚 (Gan Bi)
Sadly I did not get to see this one on the big screen. Even so the images are perfection, culminating in an hour-long single shot that ends the film. And it's not an hour long the way 1917 was done with invisible edits, but a true, one hour take, wandering through a dream after falling asleep in the cinema. It is artsy-fartsy stuff, ambitions of being Wong Kar-Wai crossed with Fellini or something, but while not screamingly original it is one of those that was worth seeing for the cinematography alone. The design and execution of that long take should have been deemed award-worthy.

Yorick Le Saux for High Life (Claire Denis)
Yorick also shot Gerwig's Little Women this year but it is Denis' brutal Sci-Fi piece that was the standout for me. The French-born Le Saux has been doing strong work for years including Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash and I Am Love, François Ozon's Potiche, Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper, and Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive. Like just about all of Denis' work it surely ain't for everyone, but she remains one of my favorite filmmakers and this movie was the intense and troubling voyage I expected. Visually I liked it more than Hoyte Van Hoytema's work on James Grey's bigger budgeted Ad Astra.

Claire Mathon for Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma)
This was my favorite costume period piece of the year, for both the compelling forbidden love story and for its visuals. This is the first thing I have seen that was shot by Mathon and I will definitely seek her out again.

Mike Gioulakis for Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell)
Mitchell and Gioulakis had their breakthrough in 2014 with the effective and clever It Follows. Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis had a rather amazing year with his work in M. Night Shyamalan's Glass, Jordan Peele's Us, and Under the Silver Lake all released within a few months of each other. All have excellent visuals but for me it was Under the Silver Lake I found myself immersed in. As a film it doesn't quite work, a paranoid thriller that is more style than substance, but wow, what style. A fever dream Los Angeles that I visited several times. The repeat viewings were not to better discern the plot but to simply enjoy the images.

Adam Newport-Berra for The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot)
This was one of my favorite films of the year. It got some awards attention from the likes of The Gotham and Film Independent Spirit Awards, but it could have racked up plenty more, including Oscars, and definitely for Newport-Berra's photography. I lived in San Francisco for a couple years in the '90s and this movie is one of the most beautiful cinematic portraits of that classic city.

The settings in 1917 not only looked good, with impressive cinematography, but the mechanics of getting some of those shots and their tracking fascinated me. I think the long takes will be in the film's favor for the award.

1917 did not win Best Picture nor Best Director but the master Roger Deakins did win his second Oscar for Best Cinematography.

In the 21st Century the Cinematography winner has now been paired with the Best Picture winner only twice in twenty years: Emmanuel Lubezki with Birdman and Anthony Dod Mantle with Slumdog Millionaire.